Evidentiality is a grammatical category that indicates the source of information, for example, whether the speaker has personally seen (or perceived) a situation in question, inferred it from evidence, or heard it from other people. This paper focuses on Korean evidential sentences with the suffix -te, examining them in relation to the assertive speech act. The author shows that a direct evidential sentence with -te expresses two seemingly unrelated meanings -- a meaning that the speaker directly witnessed the event and a meaning regarding the speaker's attitude such as 'psychological distance' and 'lack of responsibility'. It is argued that when the speaker chooses an evidential sentence rather than a non-evidential sentence, (s)he relates his or her association to the information without believing or making a commitment to it. In other words, the speaker of an evidential sentence simply serves as a passive channel through which the proposition is obtained and delivered to the hearer. Thus, a Korean evidential sentence does not express an assertive but rather a presentative speech act (cf. Faller 2002). This analysis suggests that Korean evidentials actually do two things -- they convey an evidential meaning, i.e., the source of information, and they express the non-assertive mode, i.e., a presentative speech act. This raises the question if evidentials in other languages also lack an assertive speech act.
Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
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